WNBA Power Rankings: Final Regular-Season Edition Plus Championship Prediction

Jackie PowellAugust 9, 2022

WNBA Power Rankings: Final Regular-Season Edition Plus Championship Prediction

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    Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones #35 and Chicago Sky forward Emma Meesseman #33 fight for position during a WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and the Chicago Sky on August 7, 2022, at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.

    With the final week of the WNBA regular season upon us, the races for the top seeds and the final few playoff spots are in high gear. Could there be some confusing tiebreakers to sift through Sunday? You bet!

    But first, the Dallas Wings clinched a playoff spot Monday night with their win over the New York Liberty. So now only two spots remain. Five teamsโ€”the Liberty, Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury, Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparksโ€”are in the hunt.

    Within the top tier of the league, the Washington Mystics slowed down because of some tough shooting performances from Elena Delle Donne. The Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm battled it out during Sue Bird's final regular-season home game. And the Chicago Sky continued to prove they are the Connecticut Sun's kryptonite.

    Find out below which teams are rising at the right time and falling at the worst timeโ€”and who I see winning the title based on my close watch of the top contenders.

12. Indiana Fever (5-29) (No Change)

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    Lexie Hull #10 of the Indiana Fever handles the ball during the game against Marina Mabrey #3 of the Dallas Wings on August 6, 2022 at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. Photo by: Richard Rodriguez/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 0-2


    Health Outlook: The Indiana Fever are without both of the Mitchells. While last week I discussed the fact that Kelsey Mitchell would be out for the rest of the season, this week Tiffany Mitchell was out. During the Fever's 91-81 loss to the Dream on Wednesday, Mitchell fell awkwardly on an acrobatic layup. She was ruled out with a right calf injury for Saturday's matchup against the Wings. Rookie Lexie Hull moved into the starting lineup.


    Stat of the Week: Hull posted career highs in points and field-goal percentage against Dallas. She scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting and finished 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.


    Will Indiana Win Another Game? It's a great question, especially considering the Fever will finish the season against the Mystics, a playoff team within the upper echelon of the league's pecking order. Indiana fought hard this week, mounting a comeback against the Dream and almost defeating the Wings in overtime. If Mystics head coach and GM Mike Thibault rests his starters before the playoffs, the Fever have a shot at one more win. But if not, they probably end the season on an 18-game losing streak.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (13-20) (No Change)

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    Brittney Sykes #15 of the Los Angeles Sparks dribbles the ball during the game against the Washington Mystics on August 7, 2022 at Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington. Photo by: Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 1-3


    Health Outlook: Rookie Rae Burrell was ruled out for the rest of the season as she recovers from May 27 knee surgery. Guard Lexie Brown returned to the lineup against the Liberty, while Kristi Toliver remained out with a lingering calf injury. Chiney Ogwumike has missed three games since colliding with Liberty wing Rebecca Allen (again) on Tuesday during the first game of the back-to-back at Barclays Center.


    Stat of the Week:

    LA Sparks PR @LASparksPR

    Nelson-Ododa has 4 blks, 10 rebs and 8 pts, becoming the 6th player in <a href="https://twitter.com/LASparks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LASparks</a> history to have 4 blks &amp; 10+ rebs in a game. <br><br>She joins Taj McWilliams-Franklin (1x), N. Ogwumike (3x), Lisa Leslie (35x), Candace Parker (22x) &amp; Amanda Zahui B (1x). Per <a href="https://twitter.com/WBBTimeline?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WBBTimeline</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TimeToShow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TimeToShow</a>


    Sparks Snap Losing Streak Without Chennedy Carter: Chennedy Carter hasn't been on the injury report, but she also hasn't played since that first game against the Liberty. So what gives? Has interim head coach Fred Williams lost confidence in the young guard for whom the organization traded its 2023 first-round draft pick?

    The Sparks also got their first win without Liz Cambage. It came Sunday against the Mystics, when Elena Delle Donne shot 16.7 percent from the field. But L.A. couldn't fully enjoy its first win since July 21. Half the team spent Sunday night sleeping in an airport since the flight back to Los Angeles was delayed and then canceled.

    Sparks star and WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike reflected on the experience and how commercial travel has changed since the players signed the 2020 CBA.

    WNBPA @TheWNBPA

    4am thoughts from the airport terminal. <a href="https://t.co/GzrHkQ5FUA">pic.twitter.com/GzrHkQ5FUA</a>

10. Atlanta Dream (14-19) (No Change)

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    Cheyenne Parker #32 and Rhyne Howard #10 are interviewed Parker scored the game winning basket during the game against the Los Angeles Sparks on August 5, 2022 at Gateway Center Arena in College Park. Photo byAdam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 2-1


    Health Outlook: The Dream's injury report ballooned to five playersโ€”almost half the roster. Guard Kristy Wallace entered the health and safety protocols prior, and the team announced that forward Nia Coffey will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. She joined AD as the second Dream player to be unavailable for the rest of the year. In addition, Monique Billings and Tiffany Hayes were out this week with ankle injuries.


    Stat of the Week:

    Atlanta Dream PR @ATLDreamPR

    Naz Hillmon now holds the franchise rookie season record with 151 total rebounds; Rhyne Howard is right behind her with 141 (tied with Brittney Sykes).


    Fighting for the Postseason with 8 Players: The Dream are still in the playoff hunt, but their dwindling roster will make it difficult to finish the season in the top eight. Atlanta sits in the seventh spot and will play its final three games against the Aces and Liberty. Both opponents have something to fight for. For Las Vegas, it's higher seeding, and for New York, it's also a spot in the top eight. With a limited bench, can the Dream do what not many imagined they would coming into this season? If they do, it should cement Tanisha Wright as the Coach of the Year.

9. Minnesota Lynx (13-20) (No Change)

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    Napheesa Collier #24 of the Minnesota Lynx looks on during the game against the Atlanta Dream on August 7, 2022 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by: David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 1-1


    Health Outlook: With the return of Napheesa Collier, it looked like the Lynx were going to be the healthiest they've been all season with only Damiris Dantas still not available because of a personal leave. But Aerial Powers was out Sunday with a left knee injury after she experienced pain during practice. Minnesota was also able to hang on to Lindsay Allen and Nikolina Milic via hardship contracts since without the two it would have had only eight players.


    Stat of the Week:

    Lynx PR @Lynx_PR

    With her second block of the night in last night's win over Atlanta, Sylvia Fowles (718) passed Brittney Griner (716) for third all-time leader on the WNBA block list.<br>1. Margo Dydek (877)<br>2. Lisa Leslie (822)<br>3. Sylvia Fowles (718)<br>4.Brittney Griner (716)<br>5.Candace Parker (601) <a href="https://t.co/sjSvPOn649">https://t.co/sjSvPOn649</a>


    Napheesa Collier Returns: The Athletic broke the news Sunday that Collier was set to not only return but also start against the Dream. Collier gave birth to her first child 10 weeks ago.

    How did Collier do? For someone who hasn't played professional basketball in over a year, I'd say she did all right. In 21 minutes, she scored six points on 2-of-7 shooting with two rebounds, an assist, one block and a steal.

    Howard Megdal @howardmegdal

    I just think it says SO much about Sylvia Fowles that Napheesa Collier wanted to get back on the court to play with her, and while the Lynx are fighting for a playoff berth in her final season, Fowles' first instinct was to protect Collier's well-being <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBA</a> <a href="https://t.co/lkCluyL2fw">https://t.co/lkCluyL2fw</a>

8. New York Liberty (13-20) (โ†“1 Spot)

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    Betnijah Laney #44 of the New York Liberty smiles before the game against the Phoenix Mercury on August 6, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 2-2


    Health Outlook: Right when the Liberty had a clean injury report with the return of Betnijah Laney, someone else got hurt. In a 76-62 loss at the Mercury, Natasha Howard left in the third quarter with a right ankle injury. Against the Wings on Monday, the Liberty ruled her out. Head coach Sandy Brondello said Howard was diagnosed with a Grade 1 sprain and that she'll be day-to-day.


    Stat of the Week:

    Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

    History for <a href="https://twitter.com/sabrina_i20?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sabrina_i20</a> ๐Ÿ™Œ <a href="https://t.co/QrauAjDjg7">pic.twitter.com/QrauAjDjg7</a>


    How Can Betnijah Laney Help? Laney hasn't played professional basketball in almost a year. She didn't go overseas in the offseason and underwent two knee surgeries in six months. What can she add to a team that has found its chemistry, and how can she find her way into the rotation?

    Laney is tough and a desperate need defensively at the guard spot and on the wing. With Howard out, Laney may need to take on more of an anchor role. It will be a tough ask for a player who is still learning the team's scheme. But in two games, Laney has looked aggressive on defense while still trying to fit in to the offense. On Monday, in an 86-77 loss, Laney had three assists, three rebounds and four points on 2-of-5 shooting. She's finding her way, but there's not much time left.

7. Phoenix Mercury (14-19) (โ†‘1 Spot)

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    The Phoenix Mercury and Connecticut Sun huddle up together before the game in support of Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury on August 4, 2022 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Photo by: Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 1-2


    Health Outlook: Diamond DeShields returned to the rotation after missing five games with a left hip injury. Kia Nurse, whom I doubt will return this season, was out as well. On Saturday, the team released an injury report that stated Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith wouldn't be available against the Liberty. Taurasi missed her second game in a row with a strained quad, and Diggins-Smith was out with a non-COVID-19 illness.

    On Monday, Phoenix's injury report got even more interesting when the team announced it signed Yvonne Turner to a hardship contract. And, oh yeah, this means Taurasi will miss the rest of the season. The team clarified to ESPN's Alexa Philippou that the designation didn't include the playoffs.

    Lindsay Gibbs @linzsports

    The Art Of Burying The Lede, by the Phoenix Mercury <a href="https://t.co/gLV8EhE4zU">pic.twitter.com/gLV8EhE4zU</a>


    Stat of the Week:

    Phoenix Mercury @PhoenixMercury

    Everybody eats. <a href="https://twitter.com/SheyP11?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SheyP11</a> hit the gas pedal and arrived at a new career-high! <a href="https://t.co/qnZFosnIdl">pic.twitter.com/qnZFosnIdl</a>


    An Emotional Week: The Mercury went through a lot this week. The team played the Sun on the same day the world heard the news that Brittney Griner had been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for drug possession and smuggling. Prior to the game Thursday, the teams joined together at center court for a moment of silence that turned into a rallying cry for Griner.

    ESPN @espn

    The Phoenix Mercury and Connecticut Sun stood in solidarity for 42 seconds following Brittney Griner's sentencing ๐Ÿงก <a href="https://t.co/kVVJPpubXq">pic.twitter.com/kVVJPpubXq</a>

    It was difficult for guard Diggins-Smith to speak after a 77-64 loss. "How are you supposed to approach the game and approach the court with a clear mind and the whole group is crying before the game?" she said.

6. Washington Mystics (20-14) (โ†“3 Spots)

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    Myisha Hines-Allen #2 of the Washington Mystics handles the ball during the game during the game against Jasmine Walker #40 of the Los Angeles Sparks on August 7, 2022 at Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, DC. Photo by: Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 1-2


    Health Outlook: Elena Delle Donne didn't travel or play when the Mystics took on the Sky in Chicago on Friday. The two-time MVP had played three games in four days, including Tuesday against the Aces when she shot an uncharacteristic 1-of-7 from the field. When she did return against the Sparks on Sunday, Delle Donne shot 2-of-12 in a 79-76 loss.


    Stat of the Week:

    Jenn Hatfield (she/her) @jennhatfield1

    Elena Delle Donne is 2-for-11 (18%) from the floor tonight with seconds left. The last time she shot that poorly (on at least two attempts) was eight years ago to the day, Aug. 7, 2014 against Minnesota. (Stat credit: <a href="https://twitter.com/WBBTimeline?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WBBTimeline</a>) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheNextHoops?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheNextHoops</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mystics25?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mystics25</a>


    Was Natasha Cloud Fouled? With zero timeouts and 3.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Mystics had an opportunity to tie the Sparks. Natasha Cloud dribbled up the court as quickly as she could and fired from the logo. Jordin Canada didn't leave her space to come down, and one of the officials signaled a foul. But that call was waived off. Did the clock hit zero before the shot?

    Regardless, the game ended with boos from the home crowd and a visibly angry Cloud. She tweeted: "Fine me. Our officials are trash." It looks like the officiating crew got it right, but the confusion among them was incredibly frustrating for the Mystics.

    jack maloney @jackmaloneycbs

    re the cloud play: extremely close but refs made the right call the red lights were on before canada made contact <a href="https://t.co/yMLvSz0kDb">pic.twitter.com/yMLvSz0kDb</a>

5. Dallas Wings (17-16) (โ†‘1 Spot)

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    The Dallas Wings huddle up after the game against the Las Vegas Aces on August 4, 2022 at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. Photo by: Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 4-0


    Health Outlook: The Wings began the week without Arike Ogunbowale, who suffered an ankle injury July 30 against the Dream. But Ogunbowale returned Saturday against the Fever, only to injure her hip in the fourth quarter. Against New York on Monday, Dallas was without Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally, who missed her 10th game in a row with an ankle injury.


    Stat of the Week:

    WNBA @WNBA

    Western Conference Player of the Week, <a href="https://twitter.com/Teaira_15?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Teaira_15</a>, was DOMINATING the paint ๐Ÿ’ช<br><br>19.3 PPG | 14.0 RPG | 1.5 SPG <a href="https://t.co/kTrQT8Hmga">pic.twitter.com/kTrQT8Hmga</a>


    Are the Wings Better Without Arike Ogunbowale? This sounds like a hot take, but if you watch how the Wings play without her, it's absolutely not. First, you have to look at who the Wings defeated without their leading scorer: the Aces and defending champion Sky. Those are two of the best teams in the league.

    The Next's Em Adler explained why Ogunbowale has been a net negative despite her scoring talent and athleticism. "Sheโ€™s not a value-added passer, but head coach Vickie Johnson won't send her or either wing Allisha Gray or Marina Mabrey to the bench, leaving Dallas with a starting lineup that lacks any point guard," Adler wrote. "This makes both running set plays and driving efficient offense quite difficult."

    Also, Ogunbowale was replaced in the starting lineup by Veronica Burton, more of a true point guard who takes defense more seriously. With the Wings' 86-77 win over the Liberty, they not only clinched a playoff spot but also won a fifth straight game for the first time since 2018, the year before Ogunbowale was drafted.

4. Seattle Storm (20-13) (โ†‘1 Spot)

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    Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm smiles after her last game on August 7, 2022 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. Photo by: Lindsey Wasson/NBAE via Getty Images

    Record This Week: 1-1


    Health Outlook: While Stephanie Talbot left the Storm's game against the Lynx on Wednesday with an ankle injury, she returned to action on Sunday against the Aces. Meanwhile, head coach Noelle Quinn missed Sue Bird's final regular-season game in Seattle as she entered health and safety protocols before Sunday's game. Mercedes Russell remains out after getting surgery to treat her low-pressure headaches that have had her out for the majority of the season.


    Stat of the Week:

    Across the Timeline @WBBTimeline

    The Seattle Storm starters tonight...<br><br>Sue Bird: 6 AST<br>Breanna Stewart: 5 AST<br>Jewell Loyd: 5 AST<br>Tina Charles: 4 AST<br>Gabby Williams: 4 AST<br><br>Just the 3rd time in WNBA history a team has had 4+ AST from each of their starters, 2 of them now from the Storm.<a href="https://t.co/OCapzKYA90">https://t.co/OCapzKYA90</a>


    Thank You, Sue: Sue Bird played her final regular-season home game in front of 18,100 people on Sunday. The showing was the largest in franchise history and drew the largest crowd for the young Climate Pledge Arena, which also hosts games for the NHL's Seattle Kraken.

    While Bird wasn't her sharpest on Sunday, she still scored nine points on 4-of-9 shooting and had six assists and four rebounds in the Storm's 89-81 loss to the Aces. Following the game, Bird gave a four-minute speech to the Storm fans, thanking them for their support over the past 21 years.

    Seattle Storm @seattlestorm

    We love you, <a href="https://twitter.com/S10Bird?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@S10Bird</a> ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›<br><br>Thank you for everything you have given to Seattle and the game of basketball. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheFinalFlight?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheFinalFlight</a> <a href="https://t.co/UidfAziZJe">pic.twitter.com/UidfAziZJe</a>

    "I did want to acknowledge everyone who made today possible. Not just this moment and having a sold-out crowd, but allowing me to be myself," Bird said.

3. Las Vegas Aces (23-10) (โ†“1 Spot)

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    A'ja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas Aces shoots the ball during the game against the Seattle Storm on August 7, 2022 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. Photo by: Lindsey Wasson/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 1-2


    Health Outlook: The Aces haven't had a name on the injury report for a while. Their luck has been quite impeccable for the majority of this season, though they still had four DNPs in each game they played this week. It looks like head coach Becky Hammon has lost confidence in French rookie Iliana Rupert.


    Stat of the Week:

    Las Vegas Aces @LVAces

    ๐Ÿฏ,๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿฌ ๐—–๐—”๐—ฅ๐—˜๐—˜๐—ฅ ๐—ฃ๐—ข๐—œ๐—ก๐—ง๐—ฆ ๐Ÿ”ฅ<a href="https://twitter.com/cgray209?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cgray209</a> picks up another milestone!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/POINTGAWDDDDD?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#POINTGAWDDDDD</a> // <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ALLIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ALLIN</a> <a href="https://t.co/J7J4X12QCt">pic.twitter.com/J7J4X12QCt</a>


    Dearica Hamby to Come off the Bench: Hammon made a switch to her starting lineup Sunday afternoon against the Storm. She moved Kiah Stokes, A'ja Wilson's backup center, to the starting lineup and opted to bring Dearica Hamby off the bench.

    Following the Aces 89-81 win over Seattle, Hammon noted that Stokes will start "for the foreseeable future." Has Bill Laimbeer returned? He said he was done coaching, but relegating Hamby to the bench is quite Laimbeerian if you ask me.

    While the adjustment is likely meant for Hamby, who has been struggling as of late, to gain some confidence against opposing reserves, I don't think playing Wilson and Stokes together for extended minutes will yield better basketball. It might lead to some better defense, but not necessarily better basketball. Stokes is a true 5 and proved in 2020 that she absolutely cannot play the 4. Does this mean Wilson returns to the 4? I guess so. We'll see how long this lasts.

2. Connecticut Sun (22-11) (โ†‘2 Spots)

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    Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner #24 drives to the basket past Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker #3 for a lay up during a WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and the Chicago Sky on August 7, 2022, at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. Photo by: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 2-1


    Health Outlook: The Sun's injury report includes both Jasmine Thomas and Bria Hartley, two guards who both tore their ACLs this season. But head coach and general manager Curt Miller found another veteran guard for him that can come off the bench. The Sun announced this week that they signed Odyssey Sims, who began the season with the Lynx but was quickly waived.


    Stat of the Week:

    Connecticut Sun @ConnecticutSun

    Glass cleaners on the offensive end ๐Ÿ˜ค <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CTSun?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CTSun</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/herhoopstats?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@herhoopstats</a> <a href="https://t.co/vfdN8e6kFG">pic.twitter.com/vfdN8e6kFG</a>


    How Odyssey Sims Can Lift the Sun: Ever since Thomas tore her ACL in May, Miller has wanted a veteran point guard presence. He loved what he saw from Hartley, but she then suffered a similar fate.

    In a back-and-forth game against the Sky in Chicago on Sunday, Simms gave the Sun over 18 minutes, recording 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and four assists. While Miller wasn't there to witness Simms' performance following the death of his mother, that type of stat line from Simms is what he's been looking for from a guard off the bench all season long.

1. Chicago Sky (25-8) (No Change)

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    Courtney Vandersloot #22 of the Chicago Sky shoots the ball during the game against the Connecticut Sun on August 7, 2022 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by: Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Record This Week: 2-1


    Health Outlook: Candace Parker returned this week from her non-COVID illness on Tuesday. But since then, the Sky, who have had much better luck this season, had a clean injury report for the rest of the week.


    Stat of the Week:

    WNBA @WNBA

    Milestones on top of milestones ๐Ÿ‘<br><br>With a block in the first quarter, <a href="https://twitter.com/Candace_Parker?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Candace_Parker</a> has reached 600 career blocks, becoming only the fifth player in WNBA history to reach this milestone ๐Ÿ’ <a href="https://t.co/QqHcBeAz7Z">pic.twitter.com/QqHcBeAz7Z</a>


    Queen of the Fourth: Courtney Vandersloot has been given a new Game of Thrones-style nickname: Queen of the Fourth. She's been the queen of clutch this season, making key plays down the stretch in tight games all season long.

    The Sky's 94-91 win over the Sun was no different. With 3:33 left in the fourth quarter, Vandersloot hit a three to break the 79-79 tie and gave the Sky the lead and the momentum it needed to finish off Connecticut. In the fourth quarter alone, Chicago's point guard scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting and had two assists and a steal.

    When head coach James Wade was asked who gave Vandersloot that nickname, his response was the Mother of the Dragons. Was that another Game of Thrones reference, or was that a direct reference to Sun forward Jonquel Jones, who was given that nickname last season?

Championship Prediction

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    The Chicago Sky huddle up during the game against the Connecticut Sun on August 7, 2022 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images.

    Predicting a champion is difficult, especially when the playoff bracket isn't set in stone. But the upper tier of teamsโ€”the Sky, Sun, Aces, Storm and Mysticsโ€”is clear, and the Sky look like the favorites.

    They are deep, have remained healthy all season and have found so many different ways to beat opponents. Chicago can win with hard hedging and lengthy posts or clutch shot-making by guards Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley. The Sky can rely on rim pressure from Kahleah Copper and Rebekah Gardner or play smarter with Candace Parker's veteran savvy and high-level leadership.

    There aren't other teams that have found multiple ways to win. The Sun have struggled mightily to shoot from and guard the perimeter. The Aces have had issues with depth, load management and defense. The Storm haven't gotten offensive production outside of MVP candidate Breanna Stewart, and the Mystics are inconsistent without franchise player Elena Delle Donne.

    A lot changes in the postseasonโ€”the Sky proved that last season. But Chicago looks to be in prime position to do what a WNBA team hasn't done since 2002: run it back.

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